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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : History, Classics and Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: The Archaeology of Ritual; Early Prehistoric Cyprus and the Near East (LLLE07015)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis is a for-credit course offered by the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLL); only students registered with OLL should be enrolled.

This course explores the emergence of ritual and religion in Cyprus and the Near East. The rich evidence of ancient religious centres, sacred wells and death pits provides the basis for an introduction into the Archaeology of Ritual. Investigating contemporary anthropological approaches will shed light on customs and beliefs, both ancient and modern.
Course description Content of course
1. Course overview.
Introduction to the Archaeology of Ritual and discussion of key concepts: cosmology, ritual, religion, and magic.
2. The Philosophy of religion - the Anthropology of ritual. Exploration of approaches to ritual and religion.
3. The Archaeology of ritual: methodologies and challenges. Discussion of topics including: is ritual and profane a real dichotomy? Ritual paraphernalia: the power of the ¿special¿ in archaeological investigations.
4. The Birth of the Gods in the Near East. Why there? Why then? Analysis of the rise of the first proto-religious systems.
5. Death and Burial in the Near East and Cyprus. Presentation of major discoveries and discussion on ancestors, traditions, ancestral rites, memory and commemoration.
6. Areas of Worship: Proto-temples in the Near East and Cyprus. Discussion of major archaeological sites, rich in evidence of ritual practices, such as: Göbekli Tepe, Ain Ghazal, Çatal Höyük, Khirokitia.
7. Ritual in Early Prehistoric Cyprus. Exploration of customs related to sacred pillars, wells and death pits.
8. Common Cosmologies and Spheres of Influence: Ritualised trade in the prehistoric Near East, Symbolic tokens, Symbolic exchange, Ideas trade through object exchange.
9. Ritual and Society: Rituals of Power and Social Identity. Analysis of other social spheres interrelated to ritual practices.
10. Ritual transformations, failure and change. The Evolution of Ritual Practices in the Near East and Cyprus. Discussion of ¿contemporary¿ ritual and religions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements n/a
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
¿ understand theories on ritual practices and religions and be able to critically evaluate them;
¿ understand the complexities and issues that archaeology faces in regards to this subject;
¿ explain key concepts of the anthropology and archaeology of ritual;
¿ demonstrate knowledge of major archaeological discoveries in the Near East and Cyprus which are related to ritual practices;
¿ recognise contemporaneous key elements of modern ritual practices and identify their function within a modern society.
Reading List
Essential Readings
Bell, C., 1997. Ritual Perspectives and Dimensions. Oxford University Press. Oxford.
Insoll, T., 2004. Archaeology, Ritual, Religion. Routledge, Londong and New York.
Pals, D.l L., 1996. Seven Theories of Religion. Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.
Bell, C., 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford.
Cauvin J., 2000. The Birth of Gods and the Origins of Agriculture. Translated by Trevor Watkins. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Durkheim, E., 2001. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. A new translation by Carol Cosman. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Kyriakidis, E., ed. 2007. The Archaeology of Ritual. Cotsen Advanced Seminars 3. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles.
Mithen, S., 2005.The Prehistory of the Mind. A Phoenix paperback, Orion Books Ltd, London
Web sources
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements This is a for-credit course offered by the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLL); only students registered with OLL should be enrolled.
Course organiserMs Martine Pierquin
Tel: (0131 6)51 1182
Course secretaryMrs Sabine Murdoch
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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